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Three execs exit to start firm

Rochester Business Journal
June 14, 2013

Three senior executives from local branding firm Partners + Napier Inc., including the president, have struck out on their own.
 
Longtime Partners + Napier employees Bob Bailey, John Roberts and Jeremy Schwartz have formed Truth Collective LLC, a creative company with a mission to provide innovative brand strategies that go beyond those of a typical ad agency.
 
The trio worked together at Partners + Napier for eight years. Bailey most recently served as president, Roberts as chief strategy officer and Schwartz as an executive creative director. Bailey said their last day at Partners + Napier was June 4. They announced Truth Collective last Friday.
 
At Partners + Napier, Bailey, Roberts and Schwartz collectively worked on national branding campaigns for companies such as Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox Corp., Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the Capital One Financial Corp., Reebok International Ltd. and MTV.
 
Truth Collective's services are intended for clients that want to go beyond the traditional advertising and branding concepts of a typical agency, Roberts said. The company will focus on intimate relationships with clients and be more flexible about where ideas come from and how they are applied to meet business goals.
 
"Having this creative company allows us to go beyond the traditional creative boundaries an agency might have," Roberts said. "For instance, this gives us the license and opportunity to apply our skills in partnership with some of the great agencies in town.
 
"It also gives us the ability to think small in terms of relationships with clients, because small makes things intimate. But there will be no small ideas."
 
Michael Chatfield, director of Miami Ad School PRO's advertising workshop program in New York City, spent four years as an account planner at Partners + Napier. He expects that Truth Collective will be successful and that businesses will see value in Bailey, Schwartz and Roberts' experience.
 
"They are proven winners, and their client-focused model is smart and agile," Chatfield said. "The value of the model is in the bountiful access to senior talent that cares deeply and passionately."
 
Bailey said one motivating factor behind launching Truth Collective was hearing from clients who felt limited by what a traditional agency could offer. Another motivating factor was Bailey and his partners' desire to become business owners.
 
Ownership was unlikely at Partners + Napier, he said. In 2011, the firm was acquired by Michigan-based Project: Worldwide, a privately owned global network of specialized agencies.
 
"We've been really good employees with agencies for a couple decades now," Bailey said. "I think there's always been something inside of us that wanted something more than that, to be an owner.
 
"It was tough to leave, but we handled it in a collegial way. The partners and the ownership were gracious. Now we're focused on building Truth, while absolutely respecting their business at the same time."
 
Sharon Napier, CEO of Partners + Napier, said Bailey, Schwartz and Roberts made it clear they wanted to start their own company.
 
"They really wanted to build an agency from scratch," she said. "Having done this, I know how hard it is."
 
On June 6, Partners + Napier announced that Milla Stolte was its new head of strategy. Prior to joining Partners + Napier, Stolte was head of strategy at New York City-based advertising agency Silver + Partners.
 
Bailey said Truth Collective is starting from scratch as a company, carrying over no clients from Partners + Napier. Truth Collective has spent the past few weeks networking and expects to announce its first roster of clients, including local and national companies, soon.
 
The company also is considering office space in downtown Rochester or Pittsford. Bailey said Truth Collective will look to add staff as its workload grows.
 
"I definitely see us growing and adding staff," he said. "There's no magic number in our heads. It's really about how do we staff amply to build on our vision for our clients. That could be 10 people. That could be 30 people. We'll be as big as our clients need us to be."

6/14/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.
 


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